How positive press can transform construction

How positive press can transform construction

With unfavourable reports about lengthy delays and costly overspending on projects, it’s safe to say the UK’s construction industry has its fair share of negative press.

In 2016, a ‘Modernise or Die’ review was published by the CAST Real Estate & Construction Consultancy, provided damning insight into the state of Britain’s construction sector, focusing specifically on a growing shortage of labour that threatens the industry with ruin.

Modernising construction with workplace diversity

It’s no secret that there is a need to transform the construction sector, improve productivity and drive innovation.

In order to innovate and change, construction needs fresh and innovative thinking to disrupt what is essentially a stayed industry.

To accomplish such transformation, the construction sector must significantly improve its workplace diversity and be seen to provide attractive career opportunities for the best and brightest of graduates and experienced talent.

Construction has historically had diversity challenges, but slowly companies are starting to foster a more diverse and inclusive workforce and are, consequently, reaping productivity and ultimately profitability rewards.

Research shows that workplace diversity helps boost employee engagement, performance and job satisfaction.

In its Delivering Through Diversity report, McKinsey found that organisations with diverse executive teams are likely to outperform competitors by up to 33%.

Jennifer Suerth, vice president of technical services at Pepper Construction Company, where 30% of employees are women, recognises the productivity benefits of workplace diversity within the construction sector.

“As diversity increases in our industry, we will see increases in productivity because we will see new ideas being brought forward,” says Suerth.

Embracing a technological makeover

As well as encouraging greater workforce diversity, construction firms must be aware that tech and digital businesses represent compelling career opportunities for the next generation of talent.

Furthermore, tech and digital businesses have an opportunity to invade the territory of traditional construction companies and shape a new way of designing, building and maintaining infrastructure.

In order to attract a new generation of innovative, forward-thinking individuals into the industry, the construction sector needs to proactively communicate that they recognise how disruptive technology will revolutionise the industry, and be convincing in their aspiration to lead this agenda. In all aspects of their recruitment strategy, firms must promote the significant value of world-class infrastructure on society, and how fresh thought can help shape the future.

Bringing aspirational leadership onboard

The construction industry needs aspirational leadership to stimulate interest in the sector and champion innovation, and should be bold in looking outside of the industry to attract talent with diversity of thought. These leaders must be role-models that are able to nurture future talents, and sponsor the incubation of new ideas that are disruptive to the status-quo.

Improving the industry’s image

When greater workplace diversity is achieved, which adopts a more modern, technologically-driven approach to construction methods, driven by innovative and inspiring leadership, the sector will, hopefully, begin to enjoy an improved image.

Every business and individual aligned to this sector has a responsibility to help create this. The public perception of construction must improve, and positive press is a key enabler.

People need to admire the sector and hear more about value than cost, and more about engineering triumphs than delays. All too often we read press associated to cost – all too infrequently we read press detailing the economic and societal benefits.

Only by improving the public image of construction can the industry attract the talent that will enable the delivery of world-class and pioneering infrastructure projects.

Snippets of positive press related to the industry rear their head from time to time, but mainly in the trade press. One example of some rare positive news was London’s Bank Station’s Cannon Street entrance being hailed as a “breakthrough” following it being linked to new Northern line tube tunnels. This engineering ingenuity in incredibly complex circumstances is an example of the kind of constructive publicity the industry needs to shout loudly about in order to transform its image from outmoded and beleaguered with problems to avantgarde, streamlined and progressive.

Much of this transformation will be dependant on the industry embracing greater workforce diversity and being recognised as a technologically-driven sector that provides attractive career opportunities for all, particularly the graduates who will form the sectors future talent pipeline. Construction must be seen to house inspirational leaders with diverse backgrounds, and be known for its ingenuity and power to deliver value.

Bailey Montagu is a key partner to the construction industry, helping companies find outstanding leadership to drive innovation, create better efficiency and help to replace outdated construction habits with a more innovative, collaborative approach.